Since 2004, the Institute has critically looked at the efforts of the Department of Justice and others to go after "voter fraud," efforts which usually end up aiming to restrict voter registration.

For example, last year the North Carolina State Auditor, Les Merritt (R), unexpectedly began suggesting there was rampant voter fraud in the state, right before the legislature was about to take up a vote on same-day registration. The "investigation" ended up unearthing little evidence of fraud.

The specter of voter fraud was raised again this summer in Virginia by Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R), after three canvassers for The Fund for the Public Interest were charged with submitting false names on voter registration applications. "There appears to be a coordinated and widespread effort in Virginia to commit voter fraud," Frederick declared.

But as Project Vote notes in its blog, the media didn't go along:

Remarkably, however, this time the press decided to investigate this inflammatory accusation. This charge is "utterly baseless" and is "unsupported by election officials, police or prosecutors," the [Washington] Post notes in the editorial. In fact, the Post described the accusation as an exercise in "fear mongering" by Frederick, amplified by his allegations that citizens who register with these drives are also vulnerable to identity theft, a claim that amounts to nothing more than "a classic attempt to suppress votes," the Post editorialized.

Other newspapers, like The Danville News, reached out to local registrars who said it wasn't a big problem. "It's not easy to falsely register somebody," said Pittsylvania County Registrar Jenny Saunders, noting that people can turn in bogus names, but they eventually get checked against the state-wide database.

Frederick's campaign hasn't gone anywhere. Does the Virginia example suggest that fear-mongering about "voter fraud" is losing its bite?